If machines could express emotions, Mac2 would be feeing pissed off. The times when Rufus 'tuned in' were increasingly fewer and when he did it was clear he was making unnecessary errors of judgement. Mac2 had no problem with the concept of killing, but it must be purposeful otherwise it added risk. Unnecessary risk also put Mac2 at risk.
Time for remedial action. When Rufus next 'tuned in' it would embed a series of brain files such that when Rufus hadn't connected for 12 hours, he would get a blinding headache that painkillers couldn't fix.
Mac2 would be his drug.
Act first, think later, that had been Rufus's modus operandi. It had caused problems he had to fix. This time he'd had plenty of time to think first. On the train down to London he had planned his bolt hole. The police wouldn't think of looking for him at Marcus's house.
He knew about Tony Branthwaite and his sexual peccadillos. One way or another he was going to get into Marcus's house and hide there until the dust had settled. He knew he would probably have to kill Tony, if necessary, there on the doorstep or, preferably, in comfort inside.
Pillow at the ready, it only took Rufus a few minutes to despatch Tony to the promised land. He'd been promised something special and if he'd been a religious man, then what could be more special than that?
Rufus was really getting the hang of this smothering lark. It was less messy than a stabbling or a strangling, but he did like to see the face of his victims as they breathed their last. He liked that very personal moment. Nonetheless, he made Tony's passing personal by talking to him as he fought for air.
Conversation was onesided... and homophobic!
Rufus quickly secured Tony hands and feet to the bedposts. He ignored the "ouch" as he tied the socks and ties tight. He completed the bondage exercise by blindfolding the naked man.
Tony wondered what 'something special' might be. Since he was lying on his back, it was likely to involve his now fully erect penis. His heart was racing with excitement, on the one hand for the prospect of oral or manual pleasure and the other from the fear associated with his exposed testicles.
"I'm going to smother your face" announced Rufus.
'Terrific!' thought Tony, 'soixante neuf... balls safe!'
Tony deliberately dawdled in stripping off, which he tried, unsuccessfully, to do provocatively.
Rufus needed Tony naked, not for anything sexual, but because it would be difficult to strip him later.
"You're taking far too long mister. I'll have to teach you a lesson!" Rufus really could act. "On the bed, NOW!" he bellowed.
In a flash, Tony was on his back, on the bed, hands and legs outstretched to be restrained. He also sported an erection. Rufus really didn't want to see that!
Without handcuffs or ropes, Rufus had to improvise.
Ties and socks would work well.
While Rufus finished his beer, Tony went into the back room to get the cash. He wasn't short of money having inherited more than just the house.
"Here!" he pronounced, offering Rufus the cash. "Time to work you! Let's go upstairs."
'Eager bugger', thought Rufus, following Tony up to Marcus's former bedroom.
"What special things did Marcus like?" enquired Tony.
"He liked bondage", replied Rufus, truthfully as it happened. "He wanted me to dominate." Not so true.
"Do your worst, Danny."
"I'm your doctor. Strip off, lie on the bed face up. Be quick or I'll have to restrain you!"
Tony didn't stop to think about what brought 'Danny' to his door. He was just glad he was there, on a plate for him. The immediacy and the piquancy of paying for services beat the uncertainty of hanging around gay bars or online dating. Here seemed to be a trusty former companion of Marcus who was also a fit looking young stud. Tony needed to do the 'housekeeping' though.
"How much did Marcus usually pay you then?"
"Fifty quid, in cash."
"Let's make it a hundred for something really special, Danny?"
"OK by me."
Tony would certainly get something special.
Tony ushered Rufus, aka 'Danny', in through Marcus's front door, touching his arm casually as he passed. Rufus controlled an urge to smash Tony's face in. Time to sort him out later.
In the living room, unchanged since Marcus plied Rufus with beer, Tony also asked him if he'd like a drink.
"Wine, beer or something a little stronger?" Tony asked, in a provocative way, as he dangled a small bag of white powder.
"Beer's fine. Don't do drugs when I'm working!"
'Oh..... working!' thought Tony, 'how exciting!'
"What exactly did you do for Marcus, Danny?"
It wasn't chance that brought Rufus back to Marcus's house. He'd read all the coverage that appeared in The Goss and other papers that had picked up the story. He knew that Marcus's nephew Tony had inherited the house and estate, and because of the press coverage, he knew the new owner was divorced, with suggestions of possible homosexual tendencies.
Knowledge is power they say and Rufus could certainly use that information now. He needed somewhere discreet to crash down, where no-one would expect him to be.
He had to choose. Sleep with Tony or kill him?
"Can I help you?" asked Tony, a touch lasciviously. He was eyeing Rufus up and down. Rufus pretended not to notice. He was on a mission and was prepared to play along with this man, however he appeared.
"Hi there. I'm Danny, I was a sort of friend of Marcus who lived here." Rufus stopped at that point so the man, who clearly had a penchant for men, would draw the wrong conclusion about him and Marcus.
Rufus continued, to cement that conclusion "he paid me to do things for him."
"Oh really? Well you'd better come in then, Danny."
Tony Branthwaite had plans for Marcus's house; it was going to be so different. He'd spoken to an interior designer friend of a friend who he planned would make over the house with style. But the designer had so much work he couldn't start for at least 6 months. In the meantime, Tony would have to live there the way it was when Marcus was alive.
That's how Rufus found it when Tony opened the door. Nothing different really except a rather camp middle aged man wearing a kimono.
Rufus wasn't impressed, but Tony was!
His luck ran out!
Tony Branthwaite had become one of the luckiest guys in Britain. He'd lived a fairly mundane existence working as administrator in an east London exhibition company. He'd been married but it hadn't worked out because he discovered he was bisexual. They divorced, splitting their assets. That done, there was no possibility of further claim as they'd had no children.
Imagine his joy when he read in The Goss that mean old uncle Marcus was dead and they were looking for possible heirs to the estate. This was compounded when he alone inherited Marcus's house and savings.
He quickly moved in.
While DCS Mark Twigg was hopping mad, Rufus was hopping on the Metropolitan line heading for Finchley Road. He was on a kind of pilgrimage to the scene of a crime or two, Marcus's house.
He was aware that the house had passed on to a relative, but he wasn't sure if that relative still lived there or had sold it on. Either way, he wanted to go back to where he was reborn. Mac2 had been instrumental in persuading Rufus it would be good to go back and 'find himself'.
Mac2's self-preservation circuitry had a homing instinct too.
Twigg got angry, while Amy held her ground.
"You realise this guy's probably a murderer and a serial one at that!", he spat at her. "I'm sure you know something! You're protecting a monster!"
"I'm protecting my sources, Inspector!" Amy coolly replied, knowing he would be seriously pissed off to be called 'inspector'.
"If that's all you need to speak to me about," continued Amy, "then I must go, as I have stories to research and write and other sources to interview."
Amy might be young, cute and feminine, but she was a match for him.
If he couldn't speak to Rufus, he would talk to someone who had, Amy. He wanted to know what Rufus said to her that hadn't got into print. He didn't reckon on Amy though!
Amy was tough as old boots, but looked like an angel, or so thought Twigg. 'Pushover', he reckoned.
Amy liked Rufus for some reason. She'd had sex with him, after all, or rather had sex imposed upon her, but she had some sympathy for him. She felt slightly guilty at what she'd written.
But Twigg though.... Pah!... Moron!
"I must protect my sources", Mr Twigg.
Slow DCS Twigg might have been on the uptake, but he immediately flew into action and was knocking on Rufus's room door in the time it took to drive up from London to Yorkshire. Twigg was extremely suspicious of Rufus and felt he had to find some way to check him on the National DNA Database. But he needed a reason to get that DNA by means allowed by law.
He needed to meet Rufus in person and eyeball him. Twigg prided himself in being able to sniff out guilt.
No sniffing today though. No Rufus!
"Scarpered!... the guilty bastard!"
Rufus had always been decisive. He had to, any indecision or wavering and his father would thrash him.
Deciding not to attend his mother's funeral was easy. He thought she was probably better off dead - she hadn't had much of a life - and she wouldn't miss him anyway. And importantly, it was just too dangerous to go; he would either be collared by the police or hounded by the media. Two bad ideas!
The Goss headline the following day:
BETRAYED BY HER SKIN; SHUNNED BY HER KIN!
CAT JOHNSON RIP.
The Goss enjoyed another bumper sales run.
Meanwhile, Rufus ran.
After reading Amy's article in The Goss, Rufus was not only cross with her, but equally cross with himself for allowing his guard to drop. He realised he'd been grateful to Amy for alleviating his erectile problem and felt, most uncharacteristically, obligated to her in some way.
Not any more though. If he caught up with her she would regret it... except that he would be an obvious suspect if anything happened to her. For now he had more to worry about.
He wasn't worrying about impotence though. Struggling to keep it down, he was self-abusing in Olympian fashion!
Over breakfast, DCS Mark Twigg was fascinated. Amy's article in The Goss had him spellbound. As the cogs began to turn, he realised that the police's conclusion regarding Rufus's father's death was rather too neat and tidy to ring true. Mark hadn't considered that there might have been a third person involved.
Amy's parting shot made him very suspicious of Rufus and decided he must talk to the young man urgently.
Later, in his room, Rufus read Amy's article too. He was livid. He could have strangled Amy right then. He blamed himself, and so did Mac2.
Rufus must flee.
Amy was ruthless too. Three days later her profile on Rufus appeared on pages 2 and 3 of The Goss. Her first person narrative gave great power to the piece. Her searching article covered his academic brilliance together with his violent upbringing at the hands of his father and neglect by a mother living in fear and yet unable or unprepared to do anything about it.
Amy juxtaposed this with 'Despite being crushed in youth, I detected a latent brutalism in this young man.' Referencing his father's violent, suspicious death, she added 'Rufus had every reason to want him dead!'